IT, Cybersecurity Salaries on the Rise

In-demand IT professionals like Jonathan Villa, a senior cloud security architect for an IT security firm in the Midwest, gets unsolicited job offers all the time.

“I received a LinkedIn message this morning for an opportunity paying up to $200K plus bonus,” he told SHRM Online via LinkedIn. He said the job description read “any skills/experience with cybersecurity is a plus.”

A lot of other IT professionals who have profiles on LinkedIn are similarly bombarded by recruiters with lucrative salary and bonus offers for jobs in the technology field.

And those offers aren’t likely to stop coming anytime soon. Studies show that tech workers are in demand. Very in demand. So much so that some can command $300,000 annual salaries.

Plus bonuses.

“I am contacted at least four to six times a week and have seen [stints] where I am contacted every day,” Villa said. “I’ve been contacted by recruiting firms as well as directly by company recruiters for large companies (Target, Netflix, Chase, Wells Fargo, Sony, and more).”

IT and cybersecurity salaries are on the rise, according to recent studies by Menlo Park, Calif.-based HR consultancy Robert Half and Manchester, Conn.-based cybersecurity recruiting firm SilverBull.

At the high end of the scale, Robert Half lists the average salary for chief information officer (CIO) at $268,250—a nearly 5 percent increase from 2015. Mobile app developers can earn up to an average of $175,750 annually, an 8.2 percent increase from 2015. At the low end, technical writers can earn up to an average of $87,250, a nearly 2 percent increase from 2015.

SilverBull lists its salary information by region. For example, it states that a chief information security officer (CISO) living in San Francisco can earn up to an average of $380,000 annually. That same CISO can earn up to an average of $334,000 in Washington, D.C., or an average of up to $328,000 in Chicago.

In the year ahead, Robert Half’s 2016 Salary Guide for Technology Professionals states, those in the financial services, managed services, telecommunications, health care and hospitality sectors will be most in demand. The positions these individuals will hold? Business analysts, quality assurance professionals, systems engineers and systems administrators, help desk and desktop support staff, and database administrators and business intelligence analysts.

Recruiting those people can be hard. “So many IT-related positions are being created that employers throughout North America and across industries often must wait months to staff key roles,” Robert Half states in its report.

“Competition among businesses for top IT talent today makes it critical for managers to rethink their recruitment and retention methods,” according to the report. “Speeding up hiring times, training from within, filling skills gaps with project professionals and offering attractive compensation can help you hire—and keep—the best and brightest for your organization.”

As Forbes reported earlier this year, “Research firm IDC predicts that by 2018, fully 75 percent of chief security officers and chief information security officers will report directly to the CEO, not the CIO.

“When CISO positions elevate to the C-Suite alongside chief financial officers and chief operating officers, it will arguably move the salary needle into the half-million dollar range for some,” Forbes stated.

Robert Half also points out that the high salaries may hinder some companies from getting the senior-level technology talent they need. So, many companies are training existing employees to fill those roles.

But why so much money?

“The technology landscape has widened, and the IT professionals that command the higher salaries have a skill set that spans the expanded horizon,” Villa said. “I would compare it to features in a vehicle. If you want to be able to heat and cool your seats, you’re definitely going to pay for it.”

He added that many IT professionals are considering more than just salary when it comes to accepting a job offer. “For example, I’ve considered work-from-home policies, the culture of the company in regard to whether or not they work on newer technologies, the title of the position, and even their use of Apple or Microsoft products.”

Having cybersecurity or cloud experience makes potential candidates even more valuable, Villa said.

IT Recruitment Strategies

“One of the best ways to approach the shortage of highly skilled talent is to build a reputation as an employer of choice,” Robert Half states in its report.

It said companies can do that by:

  • Paying at or above market salaries for top talent.
    Providing exciting and challenging assignments.
    Fostering a corporate culture where innovation is crucial and business and technology are intertwined.
    Making sure technology professionals have the latest tools.
    Promoting flexible schedules and remote working arrangements.
    Offering professional development opportunities
    Showing a clear path for growth and promotion.
    Listening to employees and taking action on their requests, as appropriate.
    Establishing a strong employee referral program.

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor and manager for SHRM. You can reach her via Twitter @1SHRMScribe and on Facebook at aliahwrites.

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